Friday, 28 March 2008

Busy day with appointments

I had a hectic day yesterday, but here I will just talk about Raphael's appointments.

In the morning we had a consultation with a physiotherapist with lots of standing and walking practice. Handling uneven ground and very small steps is the next objective for him now. Also we will try throwing objects while standing up. I think we will be able to find a good game of throwing ping-pong balls at each other while standing.

He is confidently walking with a trolley that I hand customized for him. I added swivel wheels to the bottom of a normal child's walking trolley so that he can swing it around on the ground easily. I made it with some old bed wheels which were quite high and I was planning on going to buy some lower ones becuase initially I thought that it would be too unstable. But now looking at it, I am happy that it is not rock solid as it makes him practice his balance skills more and not just lean on the trolley all the time. He loves it and he seems to be walking with it all the time so I am happy that I spent the time on the modifications.

Later in the day we had an ENT appointment to book in his Adenotonsilectomy surgery for May when his normal ENT returns from being away. One of his grommets has probably extruded (fallen out) and is just sitting in his ear canal. Apparently it can take weeks for a grommet to travel down the canal in normal conditions but putting his hearing aids in all the time might be perpetually pushing it back up the canal and not permitting it to fall out by itself. When he is under anaesthetic for his surgery in May they will have a thorough look and see if they can just be taken away they will also look for any more sign of "glue" in his middle ears.

We also had a meeting with a home care nurse about his CPAP mask. It is starting to get too small and it is tricky to get on him at night without obscuring his nostrils. We had tried a larger one but it gave him a big blister on his cheek. We will try taping up his face with soft tape and giving the new mask another go tonight but I am not confident in succeeding with this.

We were also planning to see one of his intensivists but she was stuck in an emergency case so we abandoned that plan and will proceed without the consult until we exhaust our current CPAP ideas.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Two years old today

Raphael has made it to two years old. Good-on-ya little buddy! After a near disaster only a few days ago, we are proud that he has made it this far.

His fine motor skills are excellent, but his walking is still designed around crashing and he still uses crawling for his main method of transportation.

He is currently on antibiotics because of his inflamed tonsils and this last year seems to have had more than its fair share of hospitalisations.

His communication is disappointing but we are persisting with communication training courses and Auslan. Thankfully, just recently he has started using some more signs.

We now count 11 signs that we are sure that he is using and a further 4 that he might be using:
  • finished
  • more
  • nappy
  • ready
  • go
  • hello/goodbye
  • bib
  • hearing aid
  • time (bed time)
  • yummy
  • safety belt
  • turn around
  • car
  • pack up
  • listen
His vision seems to be stable. He can see most things except if they come from his left and he still short grabs some times.

We have been patching his right eye to try to get as much vision as we can out of his left eye before the window of oportunity passes. He is not keen on having his right eye patched and sometimes hides his face when we tell him that we are going to patch him. But he doesn't complain about it any more and goes about his business as usual while patched. He even tries to walk sometimes, while patched, but he is much less competent this way. I like to think that his left eye's vision is improving but we won't know until we do further vision tests. He is extremely happy when we take his eye patch off.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

FACSIA Carer Payment review and stories

Some time ago I filled in a survey on the Carer Payment and was invited to share Raphael's story in a publication to be submitted with the recommendations of the review to the minister.

The recommendations and stories are now publicly available at: called the "Carer's Storybook". Raphael has changed a little since then but it is still an interesting read.

Paediatrician and paediatric intensivist

Raphael weighed in at 10.97kg today. This is a good result! His head circumference is big but he is still very short.

He was a little sick and so the paed gave us a script for antibiotics. She reassured us that his vomit in CPAP two days ago doesn't appeared to have had any detrimental effect on him.

We also talked about our concern over Raphael's speech and she gave us some ideas on avenues we could go down to ultimately improve his communication.

After the consualtion we ran into one of Raphael's intensive care consultants and we had a brief chat about his mask getting to small for him. She kindly went and got a batch of masks that were around his size but there wasn't one that was going to fit him. She said that she would contact her interstate colleagues and see if there was anything that might fit Raphael. In the mean time she gave us a maks that we can attack with some scissors to try to get it to fit.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Vomit in CPAP

Raphael vomited into his CPAP mask last night and we were lucky to catch it and prevent him from drowning. A number of events conspired against us last night resulting in a near disaster.

Within 15 minutes of putting Raphael to sleep with his CPAP Raphael vomited into his nasal mask and his mouth filled up with vomit to. For some reason he did not sit up or roll over and instead just struggled with no source of air.

The Oximeter alarm went off when his blood oxygen level degraded below 85% but neither my wife nor I reacted to this alarm immediately. I heard the alarm but I was doing some business in the "little boys room" and I expected Annie to go to the alarm. Tonight however we had forgotten to turn on the baby monitor in our lounge room which we need to be able to hear the Oximeter alarm in the lounge room. Our current Oximeter is only monotone and is diffucult to hear in other parts of the house without the baby monitor to relay the alarm sound. In addition to this we get so many "false alarms" that I had become complacent and was happy to complete the task that I was attending to before going to see what was the matter. I was expecting that it was just Raphael having pulled off the Oximeter probe.

As soon as I entered the room though I realized that the problem was much more serious. The room was dark but there was two numbers glowing on the Oximeter his pulse rate and his Blood Oxigen saturation. The pulse rate was on the high end of normal but the other number burned into my eyeballs as 71. Going over to him I turned on the bedside lamp and saw his nasal mask which was full of vomit and his face covered with vomit. He was pulling at his nasal mask trying to take it off and his mouth was opening and closing trying to expel the pool of vomit that was in there.

Yelling out for my wife, I sat him up and ripped off his mask. He sat there for a moment without breathing and then coughed and vomited a lakes worth into the chuck cloth that I grabbed from his bed.

He recovered quickly and after a mop-up and a change of clothes and bedding he was was ready to go back to sleep. Sitting with him on our bed and recovering from the shock, he lent over and gave both of us a gentle stroke on the arm in turn (one of his ways of showing affection). This picked up our spirits immensely.

After we put him back down to sleep I turned the baby monitor on and then called the home care nursing team to let them know of the problem that we had just experienced. They checked with the registrar and were happy with what we had done. We have an appointment with our Paediatrician in two days and mentioned that any aspiration infections will probably start to show around that time so it is important to talk with the doctor then about the incident.

We were lucky that Raphael didn't drown last night.